Title:legatum de maladie

Genre: Romance/Drama/Angst

Pairing: HP/DM

Rating: M

Summary: AU. There was never a boy who lived, only a boy who died.

Draco Malfoy is ill. Harry Potter is a Healer. Lucius Malfoy is desperate. Slash.

Disclaimer: I don't own a thing. It's all the property of J.K Rowling, and this story is being written for entertainment purposes only. Not a dime is being made.

xxxx

14

"What are you doing here, Malfoy?" Harry slumped in his chair and attempted to glare at the imposing figure Lucius Malfoy cut above him. It wasn't working. The dark circles under Harry's eyes wouldn't intimidate a mouse.

Lucius smiled serenely, "I'm here to make sure you're still aware of your contract parameters." He gestured at the contents of Harry's desk, "I don't suppose you've found anything to help my child?"

Harry frowned. "I sent you a letter days ago detailing my plans for Draco. I asked if you'd be willing to provide a blood link. You failed to respond."

Lucius frowned and sank down in the chair opposite Harry. "I don't recall ever receiving correspondence from you, Mr. Potter. Indeed, if I had known, I would have come here to Hogwarts with great haste, I assure you."

Harry narrowed his eyes at the older man. "I assume you'd have shown the same care and attention as you did when you gave me all of the necessary information to help your son. You know, considering he's little more than a half-animated corpse."

Lucius didn't blink, not did he smile. "I had heard that certain members of Draco's healing staff had been talking to you. Surely, you must understand that I had my reasons for keeping you in the dark?"

Harry shook his head and stood up. "Are you going to help with the antidote tonight or not?"

"I'm afraid that's impossible. I have a prior engagement that I cannot miss."

Harry gaped at the older man and finally gave up. "You honestly don't particularly care what happens to your son, do you?"

Lucius shrugged. "If you're seeking an honest answer…"

Harry's eyes flashed with anger. "Then what the fuck are you here for, Malfoy, because you should know that I WILL save Draco, with or without your help."

Lucius sneered. "I'm sure you will, my boy. I'm sure you will." He looked around the office with an overly dramatic casual appraisal, and Harry was instantly on edge.

"Looking for something?"

The blonde smiled again, a calculated glint in his eye. "I was just wondering if you knew any means of switching a child's gender other than the usual spell? Narcissa wanted me to ask."

Harry paused. "Your wife is pregnant?"

"Indeed, she is."

A deep sadness seeped through Harry then. Sadness for Draco and his severe condition, not to mention the suffering he'd been through. There was sadness for this new child, also, and the life it would likely lead under Malfoy's parentage. He suddenly felt very sick, and the stifling heat of the room, combined with the rich odor of Lucius' cologne wasn't helping any. "I don't know any spells for that. It's not as common as a practice as you might think."

Malfoy sniffed. "Very well then." He stood and turned towards the door. "There are a few people in the area of pure enough blood that might be able to assist you. Please let me know how your project turns out."

"You're a fucking bastard, Malfoy. I cannot believe that you are simply going to abandon your son when he needs you the most….and all it would take to help him is a pint of blood."

Lucius' eyes turned an even colder shade of grey. "You know as well as I do what horrible things can be done with a mere pint of blood, Mr. Potter. Good day, I'll be in touch." The door closed silently behind him and Harry bounced up and around his office, a sudden surge of energy filling him up like a child high on sweets. He had much work to do, but his first stop was to see Severus and ensure that the man's aging potion was coming along according to plan. He'd better check on Draco first…

Harry trudged down into the dungeons feeling very sorry for himself. This day couldn't be over fast enough as far as he was concerned. He felt disoriented and the inklings of what might be a certain death with the coming of the midnight hour were finally beginning to dawn on him. There was a chance that he'd never see his parents again, but he didn't want to think about. A quick look into the infirmary to check on Draco had proven that the child's condition had indeed worsened overnight, despite the stasis spells Harry had cast. When this was all over with, Harry planned to take a very long, potion induced nap. He knocked on Severus door and didn't wait for the man to answer before he invited himself inside. "How's it going?" He asked the man who was obviously sleeping at his desk.

Severus Snape sat up with a start and blinked his eyes wearily. "I finished it this morning around two a.m. It's in that vial there." He pointed to a potion vial across the room. The vial was dwarfed by a larger one beside it carrying a deep crimson substance.

Harry picked it up. "The blood?" He asked, though it was obvious.

"Yes. I've been taking small amounts each day and adding to it, casting preservation spells as I go. Do you think that will be enough?"

Harry's eyes widened and he smiled gently at his mentor. "I'm sure it will be more than sufficient, Severus. Did you manage much sleep? I'm going to need you at your best today."

The potion's master scowled. "Rest assured that I am quite capable of operating at my peak level of performance without much rest. Where are the mutt and the werewolf?"

Harry scowled right back. "I think they're still asleep. Lucius Malfoy paid me a visit at six o'clock this morning."

Severus stood abruptly. "He came to assist after all?

Harry sighed. "I'm afraid not. That's what I thought when I first saw him banging down my door. I don't even know how he managed to get in here so early, but he did. No, he hasn't any intention of helping with the blood ritual." Harry paused. "He wanted to know if I knew of any means of changing a child's gender than the usual spell from the third century."

What little blood there was drained from Severus' pale face. "He's having another child?"

"I can only assume. There's no way Draco would survive that kind of magical tampering in his current condition, and Lucius would have no use for a girl anyhow."

"This is bad."

"That's what I thought. But we can't do anything about it right now. We still have a sixteen year old Malfoy that we need to fix. I have a few last minute errands to run. If I don't see you before tonight, make sure you wear something black." Harry chuckled softly. "As if you'd ever wear anything else, but I thought I'd make it explicit. If you see Sirius before I do, please tell him the same."

Snape nodded. "Until later then?"

"Until later."

xxxx

Remus Lupin was a very unhappy werewolf. He'd just been informed that he could not be present for the ritual that Harry and Sirius would be involved in, he felt miserable for keeping his best friends in the dark about what their son was up to, and he had to eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs. The oatmeal was there to ensure that the students would have at least one nourishing, healthy meal before they indulged in the candy feast that was set for the evening. Remus scowled as he spooned brown sugar into his bowl. He hated Halloween.

Albus had been very accommodating, actually. He'd never once questioned the presence of two former students in the building, and had ensured their comfort over the last week without batting an eye. He sat on the opposite side of Minerva from Remus, his eyes twinkling in their usual fashion and whenever Remus caught his eyes, he would smile in that sagely way that told Remus the man knew all, but wasn't speaking of it.

Harry had approached him just before breakfast and had told him that because of his lycanthropy, it wouldn't be safe for him to be present for the ritual. Harry had thanked him profusely for all of the time and energy that he'd put into the project, and then had politely asked him to keep and eye on the three young people who were most likely to try and interfere that evening. Could he possible keep them as far away from the infirmary as possible? His amber eyes automatically sought out the bright red hair Lily had gifted to her daughter, and frowned when he saw the girl seated at the Slytherin table with that Parkinson boy. His scowl deepened when he saw that said boy's plate was heaped with sausage. What the devil?

So Remus had been relegated as babysitter yet again. This had led to an entire knew set of problems. Children hopped up on Candy bars and sugar were all the more likely to injure themselves. Where were they to go and who would treat them if such an accident were to happen? Eventually, Severus had conceded Remus' point and they were now planning to do their dark spells in the dungeons. If any children needed medical attention, Remus would have to do his best to see to it, at least until the ritual's were complete.

The werewolf scowled and hoped that no kids got belly aches or bruises until after midnight. His healing skills were more than a little rusty.

xxxx

"Okay, I'm serious you two. We're going to have a good time tonight if it kills us!" Kate winced as the words left her mouth, and promptly wished she could take them back, but it was too late; Olli had gone white and Rhoswen at taken to staring at the floor, small tremors shaking her slight frame. Kate blushed. "Gosh, I really know how to put my foot in it, don't I? I didn't mean – what I mean is – I'm sorry."

Olli nodded and gently put an arm around Rhoswen's shoulders. "It'll be alright, Rainwater. We're going to have fun and eat a boat load of sweets."

"We have to save some for Draco, though. Right?" The girl's voice was small, but at least she was speaking again.

Kate smiled gently. "Yes, of course. When we go visit Draco tomorrow, we'll take the extra candy with us."

The three shared a nod and entered the Great Hall. They tried not to think about what exactly was going on elsewhere in the castle. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but none of them believed it at that moment.

xxxx

Harry's hands were sweating. He'd set everything up downstairs hours prior and then had spent the day at Draco's bedside, talking to him about Quidditch strategy in an effort to relax himself. As the hours had melted away, and Draco's temperature had dropped not once, but twice, Harry's stress level had increased exponentially. Talking about which brand of snitch could get up the most speed would have been much more interesting of the boy he was talking to could talk back.

But now the students were headed off to their Halloween feast, oblivious as they'd been all week about the classmate's condition. He'd heard a few of them whispering in the halls about how Draco must be faking to get the attention. That's what kind of spoiled boy he was.

Harry frowned. Was Draco the spoiled rotten, evil little bugger his classmates all thought he was? He hadn't had the chance to know Draco at all before the boy had slipped into his coma-like state. Fear gripped at Harry's heart and he suddenly had an undeniable urge to talk to his mother. He promised himself that if this all worked out and he was still breathing come the dawn, that he would arrange to have tea with her and try to get over the emptiness that settled over him whenever he looked into her eyes.

Everyone said they shared the same eyes, but Harry disagreed. Sure, their eyes were the same colour, but his were shaped more like his fathers. Plus, Lily often had a gorgeous light in her eyes that spoke of happiness and joy. When Harry looked in the mirror, he saw no such light.

All he saw where two hollow holes that tried vainly to hide the pit of eternal black behind them. He sighed and glanced at the clock. Severus would be here momentarily to help move Draco into the dungeons.

It was almost time to start.

xxxx

"Where are you taking me? You haven't answered any of my questions! I'm tired. Can't we sit down, just for a moment?" Draco knew he sounded like a brat, but he'd had enough of this walking about in circles in the dark. He wanted to go home.

"No, no! You cannot rest. If you stop, then you'll be finished. We're almost at the gate. Can you not hear your friends calling for you?"

Draco listened intently, but he could hear nothing. His senses picked up nothing save the soft glow of the stranger's lantern. He couldn't even feel the hand tugging on his own. "I want to go home."

"Then you have to trust me, little one."

xxxx

Severus murmured the incantation given to him and helped Harry draw the elaborate Asian symbols on Draco's chest, arms, and legs. His cold blood felt strange on his finger tips, tingling gently, and it was almost impossible to ignore the sensation. Its pulse was distracting him, clouding his mind. This was his godson.

godson. godson. godson.

A sudden image of a tall and elegant young man flitted through his mind. He wore a stern expression that reminded Severus of Lucius, and his eyes were a cold grey. No! The Potion's master began to perspire. What of little Draco? What of the innocent young boy he'd seen all those years ago? The one with the toothy grin and the wide, excited eyes? Severus knew in that moment that he'd give anything to hold on to that little boy. To give him the love and comfort that he so deserved. There was a snap of something in his head, like clawed fingers digging around in his brain. It reminded him of the Dark Lord, and he shrank back from it instinctively. "No, you won't have me!"

He was suddenly drawn back out of his musing by Potter and Black shouting at him. His head snapped up and his eyes meant vivid, powerful green. This young man was a powerful wizard. Severus had always known that, but now the evidence of it was standing a foot away. Harry Potter was wielding dark magic with the ease in which most normal people cast a lumos. Severus suddenly felt very cold as he watched Harry finish his incantation and step away. Black had been holding Draco's body down, and anchoring Harry's magic with his own, but now he was across the room.

The ritual was complete.

xxxx

"No! Stop! It hurts!" Draco cried, but there was no one left to hear him. Even his stranger with his light had disappeared. Draco clutched at his sides and wept. He couldn't stop walking, or the dark things would get him. He was scared.

"Listen, little one. Can you hear him? He's calling for you."

Draco looked around for his companion. "Where are you? Why have you left me? Please make it stop!"

"You need to go now. If you don't go now, you'll be trapped here forever."

Draco screamed as a sudden flash of fire ripped through his muscles. He could feel his blood heating up inside him, burning through his flesh. "Make it stop!"

"I know it hurts, but it will be over soon. You're almost home."

Home? homehomehome. He wanted to go there. He wanted the hurting to stop. If he listened carefully, above the roar of the blood in his ears, he could hear a voice, deep, masculine, soothing. It was calling to him. Calling to his blood.

Daddy?

xxxx

Every student in the Great Hall gasped as the blackness descended on them, all of the floating jack-o-lanterns in the ceiling going out at exactly the same time, followed by the candles on the tables and the sconces on the walls. An eerie chill settled over the hall and Rhoswen instinctively inched closer to Olli. He was older, bigger, and stronger. If there were monsters involved…

At the head table, Minerva cast a lumos in irritation and hissed at Albus to help. The last thing she needed was a bunch of frightened children, tonight of all nights. She could see Remus Lupin going down to make the rounds and ensure everyone was behaving. "Albus, a Halloween prank is hardly appropriate given the circumstances."

The Headmaster sat still and silent, his eyes wide. "This wasn't my doing, Minerva."

McGonagall paled. "What kind of magic would be strong enough to tamper with the lights in the school, Albus?"

Albus cleared his throat awkwardly and stood up. He met his teaching partner's alarmed eyes. "You don't want to know, dearest. You don't want to know." With that, he took a tentative step away from the table and cast a wandless spell that set several orbs of light to floating around him, lighting his way. It didn't take him long to realize that the Great Hall wasn't the only room effected.

Everything single light in Hogwarts had been extinguished, save one.

xxxx

"What, that's it?" Severus asked, aghast at the complete lack of drama. He looked at the now empty potion vial in his bloody hands as though expecting it to shatter mysteriously. Nothing happened.

Harry shook his head. "What, you were expecting some kind of light show maybe? Sorry to disappoint, Severus."

Sirius laughed. "Ooooh. I know! Maybe some smoke, and lasers! Like a muggle rock concert!" He broke into his best air guitar rendition.

Severus sniffed. "Perhaps I'd thought that since a Potter and his pet mutt was involved, there would indeed be some Gryffindor spectacle."

Harry smiled gently at his mentor. "Severus, it breaks my heart that you would accuse me of Gryffindor spectacle."

"I assure you Mr. Potter that it shan't happen again, but you'll of course forgive my slip. It's not everyday that a Slytherin is found wrapped up in the center of a nefarious plot schemed by Lucius Malfoy to bring back souls and save the balance of the cosmic order. Lucius usually saves those jobs for mutts and the like." Severus tried to hide a small smile and failed.

Harry snorted, but couldn't help a small blush. "You always did despair at my Gryffindor parentage. It seems there's more lion in me than I had given myself credit for. But you should talk! You were the first Slytherin involved in this mess."

The Potion's Master ignored the last jibe and knelt beside the bed, placing a gentle hand on Draco's sweaty brow. "He'll wake then?"

Harry cast a series of simple healing charms and nodded. "The next few hours will be the most telling. I'd wager if he's still breathing normally come tomorrow, he'll be right as rain."

Severus shook his head. "I cannot believe the answer was so simple."

Harry put a tentative hand on his former teacher's shoulder. "I assure you Severus, it was anything but simple."

Sirius nodded in agreement. "Snape, I can't explain it, but it must have been fate. How the hell else can you explain the convenient finding of an ancient magical curse that was lost for centuries at the precise moment it was needed?"

Snape sighed. "Well, I'll grant that it probably does seem convenient, but let me remind you that the knowledge also sat gathering dust on both your book shelves."

"I published a paper on it last fall." Harry reminded.

"I don't suppose Lucius read the paper?" Severus asked, his voice bitter. He couldn't take his eyes off the young boy whose life had almost been lost.

"Even if he had, there's no way he would have linked the curse with restoring his son. My original research was geared toward memory restoration in elderly patients, not restoring souls and building links between them and corporeal bodies."

"I think you might consider publishing another paper." Severus said lightly.

"Are you crazy!" Sirius barked standing up sharply. He backed down when he received two angry glares. "Harry, if the Ministry gets even an inkling of what you've done here, what we've all done here today, we're all going to prison."

"Black, it may surprise you to know that there are other avenues of publication and knowledge distribution besides those that grace the Ministry's 'acceptable standard award' bookshelves." Snape looked at Harry. "I want you to write down every last detail in a scroll. Maybe in another thousand years, someone else might have a soul that needs anchoring, and with a scroll by Harry Potter, they'll have an idea of what to do. I'll see that it disappears in the right direction."

Harry nodded. "If you don't mind though, I think it can wait a few days. You both could do with some rest." He gestured towards the bed. "Until Poppy returns, Draco is my patient, and I'm declaring visiting hours over."

Snape made to disagree, but stopped when he felt Sirius Black's of all hands on his shoulder. "Come on Snape, we'll have a drink and celebrate the lives of Godsons."

xxxx

It had been a chaotic hour or so before Albus had managed to coax the school into hosting light once more. He stayed as far away from the dungeon room he knew a certain ritual was occurring in, as he possibly could. When he'd wandered down in that direction, a cold chill had settled on his skin. There was dark magic at work down there. Albus had known it, of course, but hadn't thought about the repercussions of using such magic inside a school.

Now he could only pray that the chill would disappear before it had the chance to cling to any of the students.

Albus could only imagine what Harry Potter was experiencing as a result of the dark forces he'd wielded. The Headmaster sighed and trudged back to his office. He hadn't much experience with dark spells, but he knew they were damaging. Harry Potter was a ridiculously powerful young wizard, but even he would be hurting after using that kind of magic. He smiled when a warm cup of tea appeared on his desk just as he sat behind it. Fawkes warbled from his left, looking decidedly put out on his perch. "Yes, Fawkes. There's been some dark doing here tonight. However, since the intentions were of pure heart, I can hardly call them evil." He nodded to himself. Yes, Harry would be hurting. He was too kind a soul to not feel the adverse effects of dark magic. He didn't expect his former student to come to him right away, but he would certainly be ready for him when he did.

xxxx

Draco awoke feeling groggy, but otherwise better than he could ever remember feeling. For one thing, nothing hurt. It was the first time he could remember ever waking up without one particular ache or another.

Ever.

Something had happened. The last thing he remembered had been Rhoswen Rainwater rushing with him to the infirmary. He'd been sick, and then Madam Pomfrey had given him a potion, and then he'd gone to sleep. He could recall vague images, but nothing was concrete enough for him to be able to describe it. Something about a song and a Prince?

Strange.

He sat up and stretched, gingerly testing his muscles. Since he didn't have any prior experience with what a normal body felt like, he would just have to bet that this was pretty close, because nothing happened. "What the bloody hell?"

"Ah, Mr. Malfoy, nice to see you awake." Draco looked up sharply and blushed. Professor Potter was hovering over his bedside, looking more than a little worse for wear. "I must confess Mr. Malfoy that you had us all worried there for awhile." The Professor smiled gently, and Draco was relieved to see a hint of a sparkle enter the man's tired eyes. Harry Potter still looked like shite though.

"I forgot to take my potions." Draco blushed again. "I don't know what happened after that. How long have I been asleep?"

Harry's smiled faded. "Quite some time, I'm afraid. However, I dare say you won't need to drink daily restoratives again if I have anything to say about it. Can you sit up?"

Draco nodded at sat up without much trouble. He watched as his Professor cast a series of complex charms over him, paying particular attention to Harry Potter's green eyes. He was surprised at how tired the man seemed to be. Had he been here with Draco the whole time he'd been asleep? "You mean you've found a way to cure the infection?"

Harry's eyes narrowed as he reviewed the results of his preliminary scans. He nodded distractedly. "I suppose you could say that." He slipped his wand back up his sleeve and turned away from the pale boy. "You're probably aching for a bath at this point, aren't you? I'll call the house elves to bring you a meal while you hit the shower."

Draco frowned. He had a lot of questions, but the older man didn't seem very eager to answer them right now. The young man nodded to himself and resolved to try again later. "Okay." He slipped out of bed and hastily grabbed at one of the white robes draped over the edge of the bed. The skimpy nightgown he'd been dressed in did nothing to preserve his modesty, and he was furious at himself for the constant blushing already. "Where is Madame Pomfrey?"

Harry started and looked up from the notes he'd been making hastily. "She's at St. Mungo's undergoing treatment for a nasty throat infection, unfortunately. You'll be in my care until she returns." He pointed towards the small bath towards the back of the infirmary. "The house elves have put out fresh toiletries and towels for you. When you're done, dress in clean pajama's and get back into bed. I'll not have you running around so soon after waking up. I'll also make sure there's a tray left for you. Try and eat something. I'll be back shortly. If you need anything at all, you've only to call for me. The portraits will let me know."

Draco nodded shyly and headed towards the showers. Once he was safely shut up inside, he sighed, and practically ran to the mirror to see if he looked as different as he felt. He was very disappointed to take in his usual image. He was still short and pale, and far too thin for his taste. Perhaps that would change in the coming months. Regular exercise and a balanced diet might help him grow know that he was somewhat healthy.

He could only hope.

xxxx

"Something went wrong with the aging potion. I expected him to have adult features or something similar when he finally awoke, but he's just as pitiful as ever." Harry choked back the cup of coffee Severus had offered him, knowing instinctively that if he consumed anymore of the caffeinated beverage and he'd be out sick for a long while. Merlin knew he'd been living off of the stuff for weeks now, and he was already feeling the dangerous effects of lack of sleep.

Severus sighed. "I brewed it precisely, and my arithmetic was perfect."

Harry nodded hastily. "I'm not criticizing your work, Severus. I'm just telling you the results."

"Perhaps it will take a bit of time for the full aging effects to show?"

Harry scratched his head, suddenly realizing it had been days since he'd washed his hair. "I don't think so. I think this is the full result that we're seeing now. The boy is healthy. When I tested him this morning, the results read very similarly to the tests Poppy had taken for students his age just before she left. Everything is normal. His eyes were bright, and there was colour in his cheeks. He didn't seem to have any problems moving around either."

"Maybe my blood link wasn't strong enough to complete all aspects of the ritual?" Severus offered tiredly, rubbing at his eyes.

Harry perked up. The blood! "You told me last night that you felt like Voldemort was in your head again for a moment when the ritual was complete. Did you feel anything else? What exactly were you thinking about when that happened?"

Severus frowned. "I don't see how that is pertinent –"

"Severus, when dealing with this kind of unknown magic, everything is pertinent."

A small blush stole over Snape's cheeks and Harry had to back away to take it in. Snape? Blushing? "Severus?"

"I–" he stammered, the blush disappearing as he paled once again, flushing ghost white. "I was thinking about the Draco I met in the other world the first time. I was thinking that I wanted to pick him up and hug him the way his father never did."

Harry's eyes were wide as saucers. "You wanted to hold him?"

"Hug him, I said." Snape barked, his tone indicating his deep embarrassment.

Harry shook his head. "That might be the answer then, Severus. When the bond was completed, it bonded Draco to you, rather than his father. You were thinking about Draco as a child when the magic all fell into place, and that's why his body hasn't aged rapidly while he slept. He can't become younger, so he stayed the same. Think about it. If Lucius had used his blood to re-build the paternal link, Draco would have aged as much as humanly possible. Lucius hates children and wants a responsible and respectable heir for his estate. It makes sense…sort of. I suppose we'll never fully comprehend how magic really works, but it's at least some kind of explanation for what we're seeing now."

Snape closed his eyes. "Have I hurt him again, by thinking those thoughts? Will he be ill because of me?"

Harry shook his head. "Honestly, Severus? It's too soon to tell if this will have effects at all, negative or positive. I dare say that if I went by today's test results, that Draco will be better off in the long run. Imagine his life if he suddenly had aged six years while in a coma? What would he do? He'd still have to go to school and finish his education. Just because he lived six years in the other world wouldn't have made him an adult inside. He lived as a child. He still needs to live those bridging years between the age of sixteen and twenty two before he'll have the knowledge and experiences that he should have had. Now that I think about it, I dare say that maybe you didn't do anything wrong. Maybe the magic was just designed to do it this way. Who knows?"

"I suppose we'll just have to wait and see. I hope that Draco will have at least a bit of time to explore healthily as a boy before he is forced to grow up."

Harry nodded. "I hope so too."

xxxx

xxxx

I hope everyone had a happy New Year and a good holiday season, whether you celebrate or not. Sorry this update is so long in coming. It was a very busy December for me. Now that it's over, I'm eager to get back into the swing of things. Thanks for reading with me so far, you've all been wonderful and ever so patient. This chapter concludes arc one of legatum de maladie. Hopefully you'll all stick with me through arc two! Thanks again, and happy readings to you all.

-Ida